Case Study / Washington City Paper

Background

The Washington City Paper is a weekly newspaper housed in an existing building in downtown Washington, D.C. The City Paper needed to renovate and expand; they had been on one floor and needed to expand to another floor in the building and reorganize internally. They did not want a generic build-out, but something that would reflect their unique personality and character. Studio CrowleyHall's partner Michael Hall was working with Bowie-Gridley Architects, Inc. as a Project Architect at the time and he was responsible for the general design and management associated with the project.

Challenge

During construction, the client needed to keep the paper up and running. They also had to insulate their tenants, particularly the radio station, from the noise related to the construction. Coordinating the complex building code issues associated with an existing building—while maintaining occupancy—was a unique challenge. And, of course, all this needed to be done within the client's budget constraints.

Solution

By using innovative materials, including raw materials from the existing space, Michael and his team were able to work within the client's budget to create a design that reflects the paper's personality and energy. By incorporating natural and indirect lighting, open space planning, and a palate of bright colors in combination with the existing concrete of the building structure, they were able to create a space that is warm, bright and conducive to the open exchange of ideas.

Michael and his team also helped bring in a contractor who is adept at working with clients who need to occupy their work space during construction. By developing an efficient construction schedule and doing a lot of the construction at night, the writing staff was able to continue working throughout the project. Additionally, by scheduling loud construction episodes at specific times, and by using other sound attenuation techniques, the team was able to address acoustical issues that might have otherwise prevented the paper's staff from continuing working.

The permit issues associated with this project were further complicated by The City Paper's recent coverage of the building department's permitting processes and procedures, some of which did not put the building department in a good light. Michael was intimately involved with working with the code review officials to keep the permit moving through the review process.

The end result was a project in which the renovation and expansion met the budget and schedule needs of the client, while keeping the clients and their tenants in business under construction. The biggest success was accomplishing all those things while executing a design that was innovative and that truly expresses the unique qualities of the organization.

(photos of this project)